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Wayfair Bringing 300 Jobs to Pittsfield

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Home decor distributor Wayfair is planning to bring 300 jobs to the city.
The Massachusetts Economic Assistance Coordinating Council this morning approved $31.4 million in tax breaks to the Boston-based retailer. Wayfair Inc. will in return add up to 3,000 jobs in the Boston area and establish a call center in Pittsfield.
"This is absolutely outstanding news for the city of Pittsfield," Mayor Linda Tyer said. "It was the first official decision that will lead to 300 new jobs."
Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah is a Pittsfield native and said he was excited to bring the operations west.
"We are proud to continue to build our business in the commonwealth of Massachusetts," Shah said in a statement.
"Steve Conine and I founded the company here in 2002 and with the incredible talent located in Massachusetts built a team that has transformed our small start-up business into a $6 billion global e-commerce leader with tremendous growth opportunities ahead. We could not be more excited to expand our operations to the western part of the state with the opening of a sales and service center in Pittsfield - my hometown."
He continued, "we look forward to driving continued economic growth and job creation throughout the state as we continue to build a topnotch team focused on providing Wayfair customers with the ultimate experience in shopping for home."
The news was heralded by Gov. Charlie Baker.
"Massachusetts is home to a dynamic and entrepreneurial innovation economy, and we are pleased to welcome Wayfair's expansion in its home state, with new jobs in Pittsfield and Boston," Baker said in a statement.
"The commonwealth's highly educated and skilled workforce is an asset for communities and companies like Wayfair who share our interest in making Massachusetts an even greater place to live, work, run a business and raise a family."
Wayfair is an international e-commerce company. The Pittsfield call center will be its ninth and is expected to house 265 customer service representatives and 35 managers.
The city's Business Development Manager Michael Coakley said the average pay will be in the $40,000 range plus benefits. He said that will infuse some $16.5 million into the economy.
"They are good enough jobs that people will travel and move to Pittsfield," Coakley said. 
1Berkshire President Jonathan Butler said a boost of 300 jobs will help "stabilize the workforce." He said the company provides opportunities for people at all levels. They are full-time and benefited jobs, something everyone in economic development seeks for their community, he said. 
"You are always looking for quality employment for people," Butler said. 
Exactly where in Pittsfield the center will be located is still unknown but there are several locations under consideration. Coakley said the company is still in negotiations regarding space but he expects the location to be revealed in the next few weeks.
The mayor said the expansion into the city began with Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, who introduced the company to city officials. From there, the mayor said there was a "collaborative" effort to help the company. That included 1Berkshire, the mayor's economic development council, the Massachusetts Office of Business Development, the Massachusetts Office of Housing and Economic Development, and Coakley. 
Butler called the news a "big win" for the Berkshires.
"We are extremely thrilled with today's news," Butler said. "This is some of the best news we've had in a number of years.
The company has been in the city on multiple occasions since March. Coakley said in June seven members of the team visited the city, stayed overnight downtown, and wanted to get a feel for the area.
"They weren't really interested in the incentives the city has to offer. They were more interested in the quality of life in the Berkshires," Coakley said.
Coakley said Pittsfield wasn't the only location in western Massachusetts the company was considering, making it competitive. In November, company officials returned and finalized its decision.
State Sen. Adam Hinds praised the mayor, the Baker administration, and 1Berkshire for the efforts to bring the company's expansion to fruition.
"Overall this financial package is expected to add upwards of 3,300 new jobs in the commonwealth. Here at home, the city of Pittsfield will host the company's new call center, immediately creating hundreds of new jobs in western Mass," Hinds said in a statement.
"Securing Wayfair's presence in the Berkshires is a coup for Mayor Linda Tyer and is directly linked to our comprehensive strategic and coordinated effort to create an environment that attracts new businesses here. The collaborative efforts of this partnership, between her administration, the city's legislative delegation, 1Berkshire, and the Baker Administration, have been greatly rewarded today."
Tyer said the expansion also sends a signal that the city is a place where e-commerce can succeed and Butler said that attracting such a company "says a lot" about the progress the Berkshire's economic climate has made over the last decade.
"We're excited for the city of Pittsfield, we're excited for the region," Butler said.
The mayor said the city has discussed possible incentives to help the company expand in Pittsfield but nothing has been put on the table just yet.
Coakley said the company is expected to open its Pittsfield location in the third quarter of 2019. Wayfair's expansion into the city is the first "big win" for Coakley since he was brought on in January. He said this is a great way to end the year.
"I'm feeling great. It was a lot of work and it took a lot of time," Coakley said. "It is a big win for the city."
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Gotta Dance, Gotta Sing: There's Both This Week on Local Stages

By Grace LichtensteinGuest Column

Downtown Pittsfield Third Thursdays — TL Collective

Each third Thursday of the month, streets are closed in downtown Pittsfield and all kinds of music rocks the city. Featured June 20 at 6 p.m. in the Dance Zone at the north end of the street festival is TL Collective, the athletic, family-friendly contemporary and hip-hop moves of Micaela Taylor's company. The group performs an evening length work "Drift." The aim, according to organizers, is to "demonstrate an individual's ever-changing relationship to self while exposing a personal season of self-growth."

You can find the dance zone near the corner of Bradford and North Streets in front of St. Joseph’s Church.  This program is a presentation of the Berkshires stalwart Jacob's Pillow.


Jacob's Pillow

Ballet BC is coming to Jacob's Pillow this week.

At the Pillow's expansive home in Becket, the featured company in the Ted Shawn Theater this week is Ballet BC, which is celebrating 10 years under the innovative leadership of artistic director and former company member Emily Molnar.

"Truly contemporary" is how one reviewer described the Vancouver-based troupe. On the bill this week is Molnar's most recent work "To this day," along with the U.S. premiere of "Bedroom Folk." The latter work originated with the Nederlands Dans Theater and was created by Israeli collaborators Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, among others.

This program runs Wednesday, June 19, through Sunday, June 23, at 8 p.m.,  with matinees on Saturday and Sunday in addition to evenings.

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